Buckle up for the Bron­cos, mother urges

Shoul­der-har­ness seat­belts a must on coach buses, says Tri­cia Wack.

Vancouver Sun - - OPINION -

On April 6, my son Stephen Wack was killed in the Hum­boldt Bron­cos bus crash.

Stephen was a 21-year-old six-foot-five de­fence­man with a smile and heart to match his size. Above all else, Stephen val­ued his re­la­tion­ships with God, fam­ily, friends and team­mates.

While play­ing out his ju­nior hockey years, Stephen’s in­tel­lect and cre­ativ­ity led him to pur­sue an in­ter­est in videog­ra­phy. He proved to be a tal­ented videog­ra­pher, and he planned to at­tain a busi­ness de­gree to fa­cil­i­tate his ca­reer in the field.

My deep­est grat­i­tude goes out to the many first re­spon­ders who han­dled our loved ones with care, and in­ves­ti­ga­tors for their dili­gence and open com­mu­ni­ca­tion through­out the in­ves­tiga­tive process.

On July 6, charges were laid against the driver of the semi-truck, Jaski­rat Singh Sidhu, in­clud­ing 16 counts of dan­ger­ous op­er­a­tion of a mo­tor ve­hi­cle caus­ing death, and 13 counts of dan­ger­ous op­er­a­tion of a mo­tor ve­hi­cle caus­ing bod­ily in­jury.

To Jaski­rat Singh Sidhu, I say the fol­low­ing: I for­give you. Since Stephen’s death in the crash that day, I of­ten ask my­self, what would Stephen think, say or do? The an­swers of­ten gov­ern my ac­tions.

I can say with con­vic­tion that my son Stephen would for­give you. Stephen was a spir­i­tual young man with a strong faith in God; he prac­tised for­give­ness with an open heart and was com­pas­sion­ate by na­ture.

That said, we have driv­ing laws for the pro­tec­tion and safety of our ci­ti­zens.

The driver of the truck is charged with vi­o­lat­ing laws re­sult­ing in the death of 16 and in­jury of 13, and it is just that he be tried ac­cord­ingly.

For me per­son­ally, how­ever, clo­sure is not de­pen­dent on the out­come of the case; I con­tinue to heal and grow through my grief.

I would like to ad­dress the need for shoul­der-har­ness seat­belts on all coach buses in Canada, along with the need for leg­is­la­tion mak­ing it com­pul­sory to wear those seat­belts. My son Stephen was killed in the Bron­cos bus crash when he was launched from his seat upon im­pact, smash­ing the back of his head and break­ing his neck.

En­vi­sion for a mo­ment, if you will, that be­ing your child or loved one. Fol­low­ing the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion

They woke up that morn­ing with hopes to win the game but in­stead they united the world.

into the crash, we were shocked to learn that there were, in fact, lap seat­belts on that bus. Seat­belts left un­worn were ren­dered use­less. While the crash scene de­picts dev­as­ta­tion, look more closely and you will see the ma­jor­ity of bus seats in­tact. What would the out­come have been if the team had been wear­ing shoul­der har­ness seat­belts that day?

In the days fol­low­ing the crash, my hus­band and I asked our­selves, why are we re­quired to wear seat­belts in ve­hi­cles and on planes, but not on buses? I re­call grow­ing up be­fore seat­belt laws were passed for cars, and the back seat with sib­lings was a free-for-all, driv­ing our par­ents crazy. Even­tu­ally, laws were put into place mak­ing it com­pul­sory to wear seat­belts in ve­hi­cles for a rea­son: seat­belts save lives.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing fur­ther, I learned that in the United King­dom, coach bus pas­sen­gers are legally re­quired to wear seat­belts. Typ­i­cally, be­fore a bus departs, a seat­belt an­nounce­ment is made telling pas­sen­gers to buckle up. Our fed­eral gov­ern­ment re­cently an­nounced that as of Sept. 1, 2020, seat­belts will be manda­tory on newly built medium and large high­way buses. While this is a step in the right di­rec­tion, seat­belts can only save lives if peo­ple wear them.

Let’s en­act a law to em­power bus driv­ers and those in author­ity on buses to fa­cil­i­tate the wear­ing of those bus belts.

I can­not say whether the wear­ing of seat­belts on the Bron­cos bus that day would have saved lives or lim­ited in­jury of any of the 29 pas­sen­gers. But what if a seat­belt had saved even one life? And what if that one life was your son. Your daugh­ter. Your loved one.

In re­sponse to the Hum­boldt Bron­cos bus crash, peo­ple across our na­tion have united in love and sup­port. We have felt that; we have found heal­ing and strength in that. And be­cause of that, we now have a voice.

I would like to use that voice to unite our na­tion in en­act­ing pos­i­tive change so that the legacy of my son and those on the Bron­cos bus that fate­ful day will be car­ried for­ward. Let’s buckle up for the Bron­cos.

Tri­cia Wack’s son, Stephen, was one of 16 peo­ple killed in the April 6 crash of a bus car­ry­ing the Hum­boldt Bron­cos ju­nior team.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.